Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Richard Henry Lee, 11 May 1778

From Richard Henry Lee

York the 11th of May 1778

Dear Sir

We have once more ventured into the field of composition as the inclosed Address will shew you. And I have the pleasure to acquaint you that Congress have unanimously ratified the Treaties with France, and directed the ratifications to be presented for exchange in due season. The inclosed pamphlet I t[ake to] be a production of Dr. Franklin. It is well written, and was published first in Holland. When it began to make a noise, the B. Minister procured its suppression, but this, as usual, raised the public curiosity and procured it additional Readers. We have translated it here, and omitting one or two paragraphs that are not now true, it will be published next week in the Gazette of this place. The reasons are good and may be well used in these States to support public credit. Suppose you were to have a translation published by way of supplement to our Virginia Gazettes?

My heart is so bent upon the success of our Country that it grieves me extremely to hear a probability of measures being adopted that I am sure will injure us. I am told that application will be made to this Assembly to revoke Monsr. Loyeautes commission from the last. Is it possible that such an application can be attended to? Thus to treat a Gentleman of unquestioned ability, of reputation in France, and after we have applied to that Court to obtain leave for his longer residence among us than his furlough permitted! His character will not be hurt b[y] it, but how mutable shall we appear. And how totally wrong it will be thus to dismiss an able, zealous, and most industrious Artist, whilst we remain utterly ignorant of the necessary knowledge that he is both able and willing to instruct us in. I think the wise Men of our Assembly will suppress the spirit of vain ambition that prompts to this selfish application.

We are told that the enemies movements at Philadelphia denote their departure, but these perhaps may be designed to amuse us, and prevent the collection of a strong army.

I am dear Sir sincerely yours,

Richard Henry Lee

RC (DLC). Enclosures missing.

The inclosed address: “An Address to the Inhabitants of the United States … 9 May 1778” was printed at York by Hall & Sellers, at Lancaster by John Dunlap, and frequently reprinted throughout the states (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , xi, 474–81; xii, 1284–5; Evans 16097–16104). The pamphlet was probably “A Comparison of Great Britain and the United States in Regard to the Basis of Credit in the Two Countries” (Franklin, Writings, ed. Smyth, vii, 1–8) Monsr. Loyeaute: Anne-Philippe-Dieudonné de Loyauté was engaged as inspector general of artillery, fortifications, and military stores as the result of a report presented by R. H. Lee, for a committee of which TJ was also a member, in the House of Delegates 23 Jan. 1778 (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1777, 1827 edn., p. 132–3). On 18 May the House of Delegates resolved that Loyauté’s appointment did not entitle him to military command. This resolution was carried to the Senate by TJ, and may, therefore, have been proposed by him (same, May 1778, p. 11). As a result Loyauté resigned his position on 20 May (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 135–6), but was subsequently given a commission as lieutenant-colonel (Lasseray, Les français sous les treize étoiles, i, 288–90).

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